Following on from the Brickbuster Animations workshop over May half term at the Highgate centre, we’ve been putting some thought into our Top Ten Favourite Stop-Motion films.
Since we were young, we’ve all really enjoyed stop motion. It’s great fun and there is something so playful and imaginative about stop motion that means the possibilities for creativity are endless. Simply put, we’re big fans. Especially if there’s plasticine about.
10. A Grand Day Out
The first of our Wallace and Gromit films, A Grand Day Out introduced us to madcap inventor Wallace, and his despairing but loyal four legged friend, Gromit, and enabled us to make friends for life. This film won the 1993 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film and is responsible for bringing stop-motion animation back into fashion and for launching Aardman Animations into one of the biggest and most successful British film studios, so without a doubt deserves to be on this list.
9. Fantastic Mr Fox
We like Wes Anderson. We like how his films make us smile, and feel a bit warm and fuzzy inside. His work on Fantastic Mr Fox achieved the almost impossible feat: it lived up to the book we all adored.
8. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Wallace and Gromit get their own feature length to shine! Still inventing well-meaning, but somewhat overcomplicated and unnecessary, contraptions, Wallace unleashes the mysterious Were-Rabbit on the unsuspecting townsfolk and once again leaves Gromit to save the day. Featuring vocal talents from Helena Bonham-Carter and Ralph Fiennes, this film is plenty of fun, has millions of jokes (24 Carrot bullets, anyone?) and is a triumph for British animation.
We love a good ghost story and this one has lots of hidden depths, from Norman’s power to communicate to the dead, three hundred years of witchcraft, not to mention a zombie council, this has so much supernatural creepiness to enjoy. Shot in 3D, this film was the first to use 3D printer technology to produce the characters’ different expressions, and it feels like a consistently fresh, contemporary take on centuries worth of material.
6. Chicken Run
One that we’re guilty of forgetting from time to time, but a film that never fails to make us laugh out loud. We love the non-stop jokes and the clever film references that adorn a great, simple plotline, and the characters are brilliant too. Mrs Tweedy is one of the scariest cartoon villains since Cruella DeVille, and the chickens are comedy gold, made all the more loveable by their simple, and funny, models. A big Hollywood narrative meets some backyard chickens: a vision in stop-motion artistry.
5. The Corpse Bride
Sticking with the supernatural horror theme, next up is The Corpse Bride. Generally speaking, if Tim Burton’s involved*, we’re likely to enjoy it, but The Corpse Bride is such good sing-a-long fun that it easily makes the list of our favourites. Often compared to Burton’s first feature length stop-motion, The Nightmare Before Christmas, we think this one stands on its own feet as a charming, fantastical and just a little bit scary story, beautifully told.
4. A Close Shave
Another Wallace and Gromit, and easily another favourite. This time we see the best friends battle to save the sheep and each other from a grisly end as dog food. It’s effortlessly funny, and gives us another unforgettable character in the Shaun the Sheep, as well as devious Preston, Gromit’s canine nemesis. It’s an obvious inspiration for Chicken Run, which delves into many of the same themes.
We were fans of the book and we think the film does it justice. For a family film, it’s so dark and creepy that lots of our younger members don’t like it, but we really enjoy the creepy other worldliness of it, although we plan to stay well away from strange wells. From the fantastical storytelling and the chilling visuals (the button eyes, anyone?) we’re on the edge of our seats and can’t help but fall in love the world created in this wonderful story.
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
This film is just too much fun. Not only earning our number 2 spot on this list, it would belong in many other of our favourites. Fantastic songs, strong charismatic graphics and plenty of jokes keep this darkly comic film on the right side of Burton’s comedy-horror trademark style. Although not actually directed by Burton himself (he wrote and produced the film), it’s often thought of as one of his best films, and we can’t help but agree.
1. The LEGO® Movie
One of our favourite films of the last couple of year (even of all time), we absolutely LOVE The Lego Movie. It’s just so good in so many ways, we can’t believe it missed out on an Oscar nod. It feels very sincere; Lego is a world that’s so familiar and the film feels very loyal to the playful experience we all know and love… It’s packed full of great jokes, some lovely structural inter-references and (dare we say it) we might even prefer Lego Batman to Batman Batman.
* Pee Wee excluded.
Think we missed anything out? Let us know!
Each of these films is definitely worth a watch, or several, so if there are any on here you haven’t seen, be sure to take a look.
Like stop-motion? Check out this film inspired by the LEGO® Movie, made by crews at Brickbuster Animations in Balham earlier this year.